We Tracked Every Submission in 150 Blue Belt Matches. Here's What's High Percentage.
What We Did:
We watched one hundred and fifty blue belt matches and tracked every match finishing submission. We also tracked what position each submission happened from. We did not track failed submissions, but we WILL be doing that for a future article. For now we have a lot to chew on with just this data.
Also, half of the matches we watched were nogi, and we did a lot of comparisons between the two. Worth mentioning, we’ve already done a similar study of white belt submissions, so we have data to compare to.
We gathered this data a little differently than we did for the white belts, because we’re always refining our process for how we watch matches. Here’s some of the ways comparing white and blue belts got tricky:
We watched one hundred white belt matches, but one hundred and fifty blue belt, so the numbers are not exactly one-to-one. Luckily, that’s why percentages were created.
We watched our white belt mathces ALL in the gi, so we do not have any nogi data yet.
We did not track the individual positions that white belts submitted each other from, only whether it was “top” or “bottom” (or the back).
If you can live those things, here’s the big takeaways from the data:
Submissions Are Far More Common in Gi Matches.
While we traditionally think of nogi matches as faster paced with more action, in the matches we watched 71% of the gi matches ended in a submission. Nogi matches ended with a submission only 37% of the time.
Worth noting that 54% of ALL matches ended in submission, so the difference between gi and nogi is very stark here.
The Armbar is Still the King.
The armbar is now two for two in it’s submission dominance, making up the majority of submissions for both white and blue belts. For white belts, it was far and away the most common submission. At the blue belt level, submissions are more diverse. But the armbar still stands above all others as the submission finishing the most matches.
The Bow and Arrow Finally Showed Up
The bow and arrow choke accounted for only two submission finishes at the white belt level in one hundred matches. But at blue belt, it was second only to the armbar in it’s numbers with eleven finishes (14% of all submissions).
Have You Seen Our Friend, the RNC?
It’s strange that the rear naked choke, widely considered a staple of BJJ submissions, is so poorly represented at both white and blue belt levels. At white belt, five matches ended with an RNC. At blue belt, it was only two.
Submissions Happen Everywhere, But in Nogi They Happen in Guard.
Blue belts showed a huge increase in their ability to submit each other from any position. The guard, back, mount, and side control positions produced submissions almost equally. Even scrambles accounted for about 14% of submission positions.
Compare that to white belts, which had very poor finishing rates from bottom positions, even in high percentage techniques like the arm bar.
Where it gets weird is when you look at it by gi vs nogi
Whereas gi submissions were fairly spread out, submissions in nogi were heavily concentrated from the guard. In fact it was higher than any other two positions combined.
Only One Nogi Competitor Scored a Submission From the Back.
This one baffled me. How could only one nogi match result in a back attack submission? For the record, it was an RNC from the back. Yes, one of the two RNC finishes we saw.
Please don’t send me videos of you or your friend winning by RNC. I know that it happens. The point is that it’s much lower percentage than I would have thought. I mean, it’s the mata leon for God’s sake!
I’m just the messenger.
The Guillotine is THE Nogi Submission.
Eight nogi competitors won by guillotine, but not a single gi competitor did. The guillotine was the most dangerous nogi submission, even finishing more nogi matches than the armbar.
Worth noting that the Americana also had a huge representation in gi matches, but only finished one nogi match.
The All Arounders
If you’re looking for a submissions that are equally dangerous in both gi and no gi, you might want to sharpen your triangles and kimuras. They finished a decent amount of matches in both the gi and nogi.
What to work on:
So what’s it all mean ultimately? Here’s some homework I know I’ll be drilling this month.
Armbars are currently the highest percentage submission in both gi and nogi at both belt levels. Might want to get good at them
In nogi, double down on your guard game.
Ditch the RNC and get good at the bow and arrow. (might be an unpopular opinion, but I’m just going by the data.)
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